Will University Scholarship Athletes Soon be Filing Workers’ Compensation Claims?

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision on March 26, 2014, which found that university scholarship football athletes are “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act[1]. In the decision, Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr, of Region 13 (Chicago), noted that the combination of the university’s restrictions on the activities that scholarship football athletes could engage in; the time requirements it placed on the athletes; recruitment of the athletes for solely their athletic abilities; payment to the athletes in the form of large scholarships; the athletes generate millions of dollars in revenue for the institution; and special rules governing the athletes beyond those applied to other students amounted to control over the athletes which fell within the definition of an employer-employee relationship.